When it comes to the heart and the question of “Can Acupuncture really help with that?” the answer is a resounding yes! From angina to issues of rhythm and blood flow, there is ample research to show acupuncture helps with no documented adverse effects during study periods—even with severe heart diseases.
Acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy improves treatment outcomes and pain relief for patients with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) related angina. We’ve seen this repeatedly in our clinic as well.
Atrial Fibrillation (Afib): 1x weekly acupuncture for 12 weeks showed improved structural remodeling of the heart in patients with afib. This was fascinating to me, as I knew regular acupuncture of 2-4x per month extended the time between problems my afib patients had by 50-70% over what they experienced before acupuncture; but to learn it helped positively remodel the structure of the heart?!?! That’s huge!
Acupuncture has consistently been shown to increase blood flow and exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure. This reduces stress, helps maintain a healthy weight and immune function, and improves patient quality of life without negative side effects!!
There are some well-understood mechanisms at play here such as the ability of acupuncture to regulate the balance of the sympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve, to help increase peripheral circulation, and to improve patient well-being; but to see that acupuncture is positively changing cell-signaling and structure of the heart itself shows there is much more than just a placebo effect going on. So yes, acupuncture helps. We even have some incredible herbs available to support and enhance treatments.
The bad news: Acupuncture isn’t a miracle cure (nothing alone is!). I probably sound like a broken record to some of my patients at this point, but for all the wonderful things we can do with acupuncture, herbs, and FSM to help with heart health—the choices you make at home each day about what foods you eat (or don’t eat) and what you do for stress management are critical to successfully managing and possibly even reversing heart disease. If you are taking blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, or diabetes medicines, you aren’t healthy—you are masking an underlying disease process that will negatively impact your quality of life (if not the quantity of it as well). All the acupuncture in the world can’t overcome bad food choices. So to encourage heart health, we are including an eating guide to help you as well as resources for more help if you need it! And while you fix your diet, let acupuncture help you along the way!
2 Kristen AV, Schuhmacher B, Strych K, Lossnitzer D, Friederich HC, Hilbel T, Haass M, Katus HA, Schneider A, Streitberger KM, Backs J. Acupuncture improves exercise tolerance of patients with heart failure: a placebo-controlled pilot study. Heart. 2010 Sep;96(17):1396-400. doi: 10.1136/hrt.2009.187930. Epub 2010 Jun 15. PMID: 20554511.
3 Middlekauff HR, Hui K, Yu JL, Hamilton MA, Fonarow GC, Moriguchi J, Maclellan WR, Hage A. Acupuncture inhibits sympathetic activation during mental stress in advanced heart failure patients. J Card Fail. 2002 Dec;8(6):399-406. doi: 10.1054/jcaf.2002.129656. PMID: 12528093
You've survived another holiday season, one of the coldest storms on record for early winter, and probably even spent a little time thinking about the year to come. Millions of people have finished up their year making resolutions to do better in some way—sleep more, eat better, lose weight, save more money, or whatever they feel they are missing. Millions more have celebrated a year come and gone with only a resolution to make no resolutions. No matter which camp you fall into, resolutions often fail. Not because they aren’t worthy, or because their crafter is weak-willed, but because resolutions by themselves are not enough to create changes in habits. And little changes can add up.
We've recently started carrying a new weight loss supplement—I’m very excited about it, especially for those who get stuck in “leptin resistance” and can’t lose weight. But by itself, it's not a magic pill. It takes sustainable change to reduce weight and improve your health. As an experiment, I just added the supplement and made no other changes. I have 20 lbs I’d like to lose. It’s not horrible, but I made a choice last year to focus on other things and not worry about the weight. This year I decided it comes off. So I’ve been taking the supplement for 6 weeks with no other changes and I’ve lost about 3 lbs and 7 inches in total body measurements (waist, neck, chest, hips, arms, thighs, and calves) with the bulk coming off the waist and hips so far. I notice I’m less hungry and I’m craving more veggies with it.
I’ve also been reviewing the research of what’s out there as far as nutrition, inflammation, and weight loss. The data on fasting periodically and its ability to help your body renew itself is remarkable. I’ve looked at the research cited by the China Study, Dr. Gundry (who’s all about eliminating lectins from the diet), and Dr. Anderson (who’s all about how to regulate mental health with diet and exercise whenever possible). The trends are clear and consistent with what I already knew with some new twists. Even moderate calorie restriction for a few days a month can mimic the benefits of traditional fasting. Sugar is bad, fake sugar (with a few exceptions) is worse. Fruits are ok in moderation and when in season. Grains and starches are often just sugars in disguise! And a little quality meat can be beneficial but too much is not good either—many keto diets are far too meat heavy to be healthy in the long run.
I learned some other new things—not eating for at least 4 hours before sleep and waiting for a solid 18 hours to eat again a day or two a week can dramatically improve the housekeeping processes of the brain, leading to reduced inflammation. While I don’t know that I subscribe to the idea that lectins are disastrous for everyone, I have to admit there are enough case studies and examples that suggest if you haven't tried eating lectin-free for 30 days and you struggle with chronic inflammation of any kind, you should give it a shot. In many cases, if you give the gut adequate time to heal, you can add some of those lectin-containing foods back in moderation.
I firmly believe most people in the US are dangerously deficient in vegetables, both in quantity and variety. Many things you “don’t like” are reflections of which bacteria dominate your gut microbiome and as you change your food, you change your flora and your tastes will reflect those changes.
So, for the next 90 days, I’m going to follow the Longevity Paradox meal plan from Dr. Gundry along with my weight loss supplement. I do plan to have occasional sourdough bread in small amounts because I've tried being completely gluten-free in the past and my body feels worse with none. But there’s a huge difference between an occasional small slice of sourdough from organic non-GMO grains and the typical loaf of bread or biscuit available in stores. But other than that small variation, I plan to follow his plan closely. And I'll see what the scale says then.
If you would like to try that weight loss supplement—it’s available for order here
*Note there is both a straight retail option and a membership option for a discount—either way, it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee!
So back to those resolutions...and why so many fail.
Goals that are not measured typically are not achieved—take for example:
“I want to exercise more in 2023”. This alone is a resolution doomed to failure!
What kind of exercise? When? How often? For how long? Let’s say you decide you want to complete a 10k run by the end of the year. That’s slightly better but still highly likely to fail unless you are already consistently running close to that distance regularly. But let’s assume like many well-intentioned resolutions, you aren't sure you can run around the block...how do you successfully turn that resolution into a completed goal?
1. Pick an actual goal date—Find a race or set a date to run that distance on your own and work backward and make sure it’s far enough out for you to have adequate time to reach your goal.
2. Break it down—If, for example, you want to run a 10k by November, you probably should be able to run a 5k by June...there are a bunch of “Couch to 5k” running guides out there—find one to help you plan.
3. Break it down again—If you want to run 5k by June, you probably should be close to 2.5k by March. That’s a reasonable time length to build a plan around.
4. Make your 90-day plan—Work back from 5k to 2.5k to 0k—and write it out. Then pick one thing you can do today to get you started. Perhaps it’s seeking advice on where to run, reaching out to a local running club, or getting outside to do a test run of how far you can go without straining right now.
5. This is most important—every day when you complete that “mini goal”—celebrate! Give yourself a high five, bask in your awesomeness; give your brain a little “dopamine rush” and help it see the benefit of completing these goals.
That's just one example—maybe your exercise goal is to maintain your current good habits. Then you might say “I will continue to lift weights for 45 min 3 days per week and get over 10K steps a day at least 5 days a week”. Or maybe your goal is to get up out of a chair without struggling— break down how to make that goal work for you!
Sometimes we know all these tricks and we still somehow “get in our own way” and as a result, don’t achieve our goals. When that happens, coaching can be immensely valuable in addressing the hidden things that are holding us back from the life we want. Depending on your needs, I may recommend working with one of the coaches I know; or in some cases working with myself and my equine partners in an equine gestalt session over at Rowdy Cowgirl Coaching.
New Year's resolutions are a great way to set goals and work towards self-improvement. While it can be challenging to stick to resolutions, it is important to remember that progress, not perfection, is the key to success. Don't be too hard on yourself if you struggle to meet your goals, and remember to celebrate your victories along the way. With determination and the right strategies, you can make lasting positive changes in your life in the new year and beyond!
Acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions and help manage sleep, emotions and menstrual problems. There are several powerful acupuncture points on the ear and the body that can be used to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. Studies have shown acupuncture can reduce thyroid nodules, restore normal thyroid function and reduce the need for thyroid hormone supplementation1.
When it comes to lifestyle changes, a diet rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and iodine helps support thyroid function; while certain foods known as goitrogens may interfere with thyroid hormone production and should be limited. These include cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts), peanuts, and soy. Stress-reducing exercises such as yoga or tai chi are also beneficial.
In a normal, healthy state—the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of thyroid hormone to regulate almost all the metabolic processes in your body. Too much or too little of these vital body chemicals can drastically influence your health. With over 20 million Americans living with some form of thyroid disease, much attention has been given to the many ways that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can treat thyroid problems.
When your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can produce too much hormone (Hyperthyroidism) or too little (Hypothyroidism).
If you have a thyroid problem, call us for a consultation. A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs—so that you can feel better quickly and safely!
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1 Chen Q, Zhou J, Zhang X, Wang L, Yang B, Xia J, Zhong M, Tang X. Acupuncture for thyroid nodule treatment: A protocol of systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Oct 2;99(40):e22276. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000022276. PMID: 33019402; PMCID: PMC7535653.
Sure, maybe a little spontaneity is in order to spice things up a bit—but building your spice cabinet can add a little spunk to your immunity, kick up your body’s anti-inflammatory response, and perk up your metabolism, along with adding a lovely punch of flavor to any dish! If you're looking to add a little zest to your life—start with your plate. Dried herbs and spices are chock-full of healthy compounds that bring excitement to your palate and can be utilized for better health, too. Basically, if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you have a well-stocked arsenal for better health.
Spices may consist of the bark, root, stem, seed, or flower of a plant, which are typically dried, and carry strong flavors and aromas. They can be added to a dish throughout the cooking process to further develop their flavors into whatever you are cooking. Many spices are high in vitamin and mineral content, are great sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients, boast antimicrobial properties, help to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and even improve digestion. Using spices is a great way to supercharge your diet, add more complex flavors, and reduce the need for extra salt and sugar. Here are just a few of our favorite spices to have on hand along with some of their health benefits:
Chili Peppers: Fresh, dried, or powdered, chilies are guaranteed to add a little kick to any meal. With anti-inflammatory properties and immune-boosting properties as well, chili peppers offer the component capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce and inhibit “Chemical P,” the compound responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain. This has been found helpful for joint pain, migraines, and neuropathy. The vibrant red color of chile peppers means it is rich in beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), which also helps lower the risk of age-related diseases such as stroke, macular degeneration, and coronary artery disease. Along with Vitamin C, your immune system gains a boost to fight off illness.
*A little secret - I keep a small container of red chili flakes in my purse so I can add some spicy pizazz to whatever I eat, even if I’m on the go.*
Turmeric: A true “super spice” with a rich, earthy, and bitter profile, the golden-hued turmeric is commonly added to many meals such as curries, stews, and even smoothies! Its most active compound, curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin can also increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, stimulating the activity of other antioxidants while fighting off free radicals. This can be highly beneficial for both brain and heart health. Curcumin only makes up about 3% of turmeric by weight and isn’t highly bioavailable, but you can increase its bioavailability by around 2000% by consuming it along with black pepper.
Black Pepper: More than likely, you have some black pepper on hand. Piperine, the component in black pepper that makes curcumin more bioavailable, enhances the bioavailability of other important nutrients as well. It can also aid in digestion by boosting the activity of digestive enzymes.
Ginger: As most of us know, ginger is a go-to for an upset stomach and nausea. Spicy, peppery, yet sweet, ginger goes great with soups, marinades, dressings, desserts, and teas. Ginger has a calming effect on the lining of the digestive system. It also boasts anti-microbial properties which can help ward off infections. Loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds, ginger offers powerful benefits to the body and brain by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Cardamom: Often found in pumpkin spice mixes, cardamom is a sweet, pungent spice that can fight inflammation, ease an upset stomach, and is high in magnesium and zinc.
Some other healthy spices you may consider using are cumin, mustard powder, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, curry, and last but not least, garlic (just to name a few!). Think of what flavor combinations would elevate your dish—experimentation is key!
Spices don’t just contribute to the flavor of food, they contribute nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants as well. With properties that fight inflammation, free radical damage, and oxidative stress—you and your taste buds will be doing a proverbial happy dance!
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Getting our kids to eat healthily doesn’t have to be a nightmarish challenge. You don’t have to be a chef to make delicious meals the family will enjoy; you don’t have to be a master negotiator either. Getting our families to eat more healthily often starts with what is most readily available in the home and our own habits and attitudes when it comes to food. Children often mimic us caregivers—so leading by example can be very effective (for all of us!).
Here are a few tips and reminders to help instill those healthy habits—easily!
These changes may need to be done gradually, and it may take some time for everyone to adjust. If the habits have been in place for a while, just remember to practice patience, understanding, and open dialogue, and the payoff will be huge—with better nutrition, overall health, improved energy, money, and time savings in the end. Eating healthy won’t seem like a “downer” or “punishment”; but a real treat that can be easily shared among the family—and can instill healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US; more than 800,000 people die of heart attacks alone each year. 1 in 3 deaths in the US are linked to heart disease in most statistical data reviewed. This vital organ is often neglected or inadvertently stressed with poor diet and lifestyle habits. Strokes, heart failure, and many other cardiovascular-related issues are all attributed to poor heart health. Worse yet, it is misunderstood as “only” a pump—when it has other key functions in our body.
Most everyone has heard: reducing cholesterol to healthy levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure are keys to good heart health. Less discussed is the role of Heart Rate Variability (HRV), the variation in time between each heartbeat, as a measure of health. Higher HRV is associated with decreased risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. And low cholesterol and blood pressure alone are not enough to maintain a healthy HRV because HRV is largely regulated by the balance of the autonomic nervous system. HRV used to only be measurable with an EKG; but many of today’s wearable fitness devices are accurate enough to give a reasonable estimate of HRV, especially those that have the ability to add data from a Holter monitor or finger sensor.
Yoga and tai chi have a long history of improving health and research is clear that both can directly improve HRV and coherence with consistent practice. Consistent quality sleep, limiting alcohol consumption, regular exercise, drinking adequate water, and focusing on eating real, fresh food with an emphasis on vegetables and healthy fats, also help protect heart health.
How else can you help maintain health HRV? Well, acupuncture has consistently been shown to improve HRV even when the focus of the treatment is on other complaints. When it is focused on regulating nervous system balance and heart function, it’s even more effective. Frequency Specific PEMF has also shown to regulate the autonomic nervous system and therefore HRV. Another great way to improve HRV through enhanced coherence is our equine programs. Just simply being in physical proximity to a horse has been shown to increase coherence and HRV. Add to that the benefits of the meditation and tai chi that we teach with the equine exercises, and you have tools to take home with you to continue to improve your heart health and well-being.
If you want to learn more about heart health I recommend the HeartMath Institute. They are a leading researcher in heart health and generous with their free products to support public health. They offer a number of free classes and publications to help people learn practices to improve their HRV and even have tools for sale to help them measure their progress. This link here is one of my favorite, 10 HeartMath Practices | HeartMath Institute.